I mentioned yesterday that one of the most commented parts of the story of the prodigal son in Luke was the father dealing with the brother who admonishes him
He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’Luke 15:29-30
There is a trap in these words, and that trap is that the brother is factually correct. His brother DID do all these things and yet his father is celebrating him.
It’s the same trap that happens when the woman caught in adultery is brought to Jesus
They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”John 8:4-5
In both cases what is said is absolutely true. The son DID squander his father’s wealth, the woman DID commit adultery, and the law of Moses DID call for her to be stoned.
How many times do we do the same thing? How often do we see someone at church and remember the sins of others we see there, or gossip about the failings of others or are offended at the sight of someone getting being treated in a way their actions (known or perceived) don’t deserve?
When we do this we forget one of the most basic of Jesus’ teaching from the Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
And when we forget these words we fall into a trap one that Jesus explicitly warned us about
But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.
So this lent when you’re tempted to condemn someone, even if they deserve it, never forget this adage.
You will find Heaven no less glorious nor Hell no more bearable if you find yourself there with someone that you never in a million years expected to see with you.